Roundtable Weekly -- December 6, 2019

Policy Landscape

Tax Measures and TRIA Among Year-End Policy Rush

Capitol Hill
Congress faces a Dec. 20 deadline to fund the government or risk a shutdown as the impeachment process continues in the House, with a likely trial in the Senate beginning in January.

  • Funding for the National Flood Insurance and EB-5 investor programs are currently operating under a four-week spending bill signed by President Trump on Nov. 21.  Without a spending bill or a “Continuing Resolution” (CR) extending current funding, the programs will shutdown on Dec. 21 until Congress reaches a resolution. (Roundtable Weekly, Nov. 22)

  • Several legislative measures – including an end-of-year tax policy bill and reauthorization of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) – may compete for inclusion in a must-pass “omnibus” spending package. Yet lawmakers may not have enough time to complete fiscal 2020 appropriations before current funding runs out in two weeks.  Another CR is a possibility before Congress breaks for the holiday.

  • The contentious issue of appropriating Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funds for a wall on the border with Mexico remains a sticking point in negotiations. This same issue led to a historic, 35-day government shutdown from Dec. 22, 2018 to Jan. 25, 2019.

  • This year, the Trump Administration has requested $8.6 billion for Fiscal Year 2020 to build the wall – and an additional $3.6 billion to restore military base funding that was previously transferred toward partial wall construction.  An administration official said President Trump will not sign any nondefense bill until funding for DHS and a border wall are resolved.  (CQ, Dec. 4)

  • Among the legislative measures of importance to commercial real estate that may be included in a year-end omnibus are tax extenders and technical corrections.

  • Negotiations on a tax package and extenders have been difficult, according to Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA). "It's different this year from other years," he said. (Politico, Dec. 5)

  • House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richie Neal (D-MA) said yesterday that some technical corrections to the 2017 tax overhaul law could become part of a year-end tax bill.  “I’m interested in some technical corrections,” Neal said, adding that they could include a fix to an error that prevents restaurants and retailers from immediately expensing the cost of interior renovations.  (BGov Tax, Dec. 5)

  • A top legislative priority for CRE that is also outstanding is a seven-year TRIA reauthorization, which passed the House on Nov. 18 (H.R. 4634) as the Senate Banking Committee advanced a similar bill (S. 2877) on Nov. 20.  (Roundtable Weekly, Nov. 22)

  • The Real Estate Roundtable is working with its partners in the Coalition to Insure Against Terrorism (CIAT) to urge Senators to include the TRIA reauthorization in a possible year-end spending package.  CIAT sent a letter this week to all Senators urging them to co-sponsor S. 2877 and secure its passage before the end of 2019. (CIAT Letter, Dec. 2)

  • The Roundtable and its CIAT partners continue to meet with Senate offices to encourage increased support for S. 2877. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) is the lead sponsor, with 17 bipartisan cosponsors.

  • As Congress attempts to juggle many legislative priorities – including an updated version of a trade agreement with Mexico and Canada (USMCA) and a bill on prescription drug costs – the pressure to pass multiple appropriations bills funding government agencies may lead to a Continuing Resolution extending current funding.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) told reporters this week, "I don't want to contemplate having bills pushed over [into 2020] because we can't get agreement.”  (CQ, Dec. 4)

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Affordable Housing

HUD Requests Stakeholder Comments on Barriers to Affordable Housing

Cafaro-Carson-DeBoer x475w

[Left to right: Roundtable Chair Debra Cafaro (Ventas, Inc), HUD Secretary Ben Carson and Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer discuss affordable housing issues during The Roundtable's Fall 2019 Meeting.]

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on Nov. 22 published a Request for Information (RFI) seeking public comment on Federal, State, local, and Tribal laws, regulations, land use requirements, and administrative practices that may pose barriers to affordable housing development.

  • HUD is also asking stakeholders for their recommendations about innovative practices that promote increased housing supply.  (HUD news release, Nov. 26 and HousingWire, Nov. 27)

  • The RFI is part of an effort undertaken by HUD Secretary Ben Carson as chair of the White House Council on Eliminating Regulatory Barriers to Affordable Housing.  The Council’s eight Federal member agencies are tasked with engaging governments at all levels and private-sector stakeholders on ways to increase the housing supply and access to affordable housing.  (Roundtable Weekly, June 28)

  • HUD’s outreach to stakeholders is a result of President Trump’s June 25 Executive Order, “Establishing a White House Council on Eliminating Regulatory Barriers to Affordable Housing.”  State and local law barriers identified in the Order include overly restrictive zoning and environmental laws, rent regulations, excessive energy and water efficiency mandates, impediments to higher-density projects, time-consuming permit procedures, complex labor requirements, and inordinate development impact fees. (White House Fact Sheet, June 25)

  • Responses to HUD’s RFI are due by Jan. 21, 2020.  The Roundtable will submit comments after finalizing a multi-faceted housing availability and affordability strategy recommending policies that encourage:

• State and local governments to adopt and implement Yes in My Backyard (“YIMBY”) land-use policies such as high-density zoning and expanding by-right multifamily zoned areas, to entitle affordable housing projects;

• Development of low-income and workforce housing units as a priority when the U.S. government disposes under-utilized and surplus federal properties;

• Construction of manufactured housing – the only form of housing regulated by a Federal building code that includes standards for health, safety, and energy efficiency – as a gateway that opens the door for homeownership for millions of families;

• An assessment of how short-term rental platforms (like Air BnB and Vrbo) may reduce supplies of units otherwise available for long-term housing;

• Mortgage underwriting standards that reduce barriers for first-time buyers with student loan debt to also qualify for federally-backed FHA loans geared toward low- and moderate-income borrowers;    

• Increased support for HUD’s Section 8 voucher program to assist very low-income, elderly, and disabled Americans to afford housing in the private market; and

• Modernizing the role of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac through GSE reform, to focus their mission on providing liquidity in mortgage markets geared toward low-income and middle-class home ownership.

On November 1, Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey D. DeBoer raised these priorities in a housing affordability summit at the White House with HUD Secretary Carson and other industry leaders.  DeBoer’s comments followed on the heels of Secretary Carson’s remarks to The Roundtable several days prior during its 2019 Fall Meeting.  (Roundtable Weekly, November 1, 2019).    

Affordable housing will be a focus of discussion during The Roundtable’s Jan. 28-29 State of the Industry Meeting in Washington, DC.

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Industry Award

The Roundtable Recognized as Leading Industry “Influencer” by Real Estate Forum Magazine

Real Estate Forum Magazine - Nov/Dec 2019


The Real Estate Roundtable is featured as one of the industry’s “Influencers in Marketing and Communications” in the November / December issue of Real Estate Forum magazine published this week.  

  • Managing Editor Erika Morphy offers her perspective on the 24 individuals, 10 marketing organizations, 7 company teams and 1 trade group (The Roundtable) profiled in the issue.  “We like to think these lists are special to the industry.  Why influencers at all? That is simple: because even though commercial real estate is all about physical buildings and the trends that govern their supply and demand, it also is very much a relationship-oriented space. Who you know, who you’ve heard about and who you would like to know is the name of the game.” Morphy writes. (Digital issue and GlobeSt. article, Dec. 3)
     
  • The Real Estate Forum article notes that “The Roundtable’s leaders seek to ensure a cohesive industry voice is heard by government officials and the public, concerning real estate’s important role in the global economy.”  The Forum report also mentions The Roundtable’s successes related to the Tax Cuts and Job Acts of 2017 and the 20% deduction for qualified pass-through businesses – in addition to its continued work on Opportunity Zones with the Treasury Department and IRS.
     
  • The report adds, “Under the leadership of Roundtable chair, Debra Cafaro, the organization is also committed to building an industry network that reflects the diversity of the membership.”
     
  • Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer commented on the recognition.  “We are proud to be named as a leading industry Influencer by Real Estate Forum.  The Roundtable continually strives to clearly communicate our views on policy issues affecting CRE to our membership, policymakers and throughout the industry.  Our communications approach reflects how we present the industry’s positions to lawmakers in person – in a balanced, nonpartisan way, supported by detailed analysis on legislative and regulatory proposals.” 

The Roundtable will debut its 2020 National Policy Agenda publication during its State of the Industry Meeting on Jan. 28-29 in Washington, DC. 

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